Across the federal government, there’s increasing interest in the end-user experience, or UX. As digital modernization gains momentum, there’s a mounting concern that citizens, employees, consumers of government IT, contractors and warfighters should be able to use modernized systems and solutions.
Defense Department Chief Information Officer John Sherman has called UX a top priority, and the White House has said a seamless CX is key “to ensuring an effective, equitable and accountable Government that meets the needs of its people.”
Here, Riverbed Vice President of Federal Sales Jeff Waters talks about how the emphasis on UX is impacting the GovCon community, and how his firm is helping government to meet its goals.
What are the challenges your federal clients are facing?
We’re seeing agencies and end users suffering from poor digital experiences, especially agencies that have dispersed workforces like the Department of Defense and Homeland Security and Veterans Affairs.
Most IT organizations are organized in siloes: there’s a network group, an infrastructure group, an applications group, an end-user group. To achieve UX, you have to pull all these disparate teams together. You need unified observability across all those domains, an automated way to provide insights in order to align the IT spend with the user experience.
For the GovCon community, what are the implications of the increased attention on UX?
Contractors are going to start to see requirements around the user experience coming through solicitations. How will the service you’re offering measure and monitor that user experience? How will you improve that, if there are challenges?
We’re going to see that focus translate into solicitations, with requirements within those solicitations to focus on the user experience.
How does your Alluvio Aternity Digital Experience Management product help?
Riverbed offers solutions that provide end-to-end visibility across the entire IT landscape from the end user all the way back into the enterprise.
Our Alluvio Aternity DEM solution is comprised of two distinct capabilities. Alluvio Aternity End User Experience Monitoring monitors, measures and tracks the actual experiences of end users as they interact with their devices, with the applications they’re using, as well as with the infrastructure and networks, including the cloud that they are running on.
In addition, Alluvio Aternity Application Performance Management solutions monitor, measure and track the entire application environment.
For those organizations that are responsible for that overall digital experience, combining these DEM insights with Network Performance Management (Infrastructure, Flow, Packets, etc.) data allows IT teams to fully see their IT environments, be proactive, improve performance and ensure that users can do their jobs effectively and efficiently so that they can execute successfully the mission of that agency. This solution ties all that together to ensure a great user experience and mission success.
What does that look like in action?
The Air Force chief experience officer, for example, was tasked with getting to the bottom of a poor digital experience. He deployed our solution across 65 bases, and they measured and monitored that end-user experience. They got quantifiable actions to guide them in order to improve those experiences.
Where do you see opportunity for growth, and what’s your growth strategy?
We have a wealth of deployments that have gotten after this problem and helped organizations with these challenges. We’ve got the solutions to go after this problem. Over the next year, we’re rolling out new approaches to delivery, primarily through FedRAMP certifications that will allow our customers to take advantage of cloud-native solutions and Software-as-a-Service solutions.
We’re also going to be offering a new product that allows for the development of what we call runbooks, which can automate self-healing remediation of these problems.
The civilian agencies are a bit ahead of the DOD, but I think the DOD is rapidly understanding that this user experience is critical. So we are equally focused on getting after this common problem in civilian agencies, the intel community, and the DOD.
What’s the biggest business challenge you face?
Our No. 1 challenge is around the budget for customer experience. This is a relatively new focus and the budget timelines typically lag two or three years behind a problem.
How do you address that?
They have budgets for other projects ⏤ laptop refreshes, network upgrades. If you were planning on spending $10 million or $20 million on a network upgrade, with our insights, we can show that you don’t need to spend that. You can spend a third of that and still improve customer experience. You can do what I’ve called a precision-guided IT spend.
We can take advantage of that budget savings to roll out our solutions. But it means we have to get in early and have those conversations, before they write that solicitation.
On a personal note, what makes this work meaningful for you?
I have been in government contracting for 25 years now. Before that, I was a Marine officer for 11 years, so I’ve always come at this with a service mindset.
Our federal customers all have critical missions. In DOD, it’s not a stretch to say life or death sometimes hangs in the balance. With that service mindset, I just love to partner with our customers: to get after their problems, to help them to achieve that mission success and get the outcomes they need.